Category Archives: literature

Summer Reading List

It’s Summer! I mean, aside from the fact that it’s still hailing and raining and … is Nashville still flooded? Anyway, it’s almost Summer, and that means it’s time for the readership here at Addison Road to do their public good deeds, and generate The Worlds Best Summer Reading List.

I’m going to make this a little more organized this year. Leave your suggestions in the comments, along with your best one or two sentence pitch for why we should read it, and I’ll edit the post with an updated list so that we can quickly find them. Ready? Go!

THE DEFINITIVE LIST OF AWESOME SUMMER READING, 2010

  1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman. (fiction) What if every god brought to America by waves of immigrants were still alive, still wandering through the cities and countryside as ordinary people trying to get by? This is a powerfully written book, with rich characters.
  2. Faking It: The Quest For Authenticity In Popular Music by Barker & Taylor. (non-fiction) This is an extension of the conversation on authenticity. If you like popular music, and like thinking about things, this will be a solid thinky read. I recommend loading up your iPod with the artists that the book talks about, and listing to their catalog while you read about them.

The Death of David, The Sword of Solomon

I’d like to someday write a book about King David, telling his story as a story. It’s one of the great epic narratives of history, and it has everything a great story needs. The universal themes all course through the arch of his life. David’s humble beginnings as the young shepherd, possessed with a secret courage and determination that nobody knows. His anointing as king while the old king is still very much in power, and his subsequent fearful flight. The man of honor who gathers around him a band of thugs and bandits, who love him with a fierce loyalty that’s only found in lost men who have been redeemed. The warrior-poet who is possessed with a fervor for God. His willingness to let others do violent, evil things to preserve his power, while keeping his own hands clean.

His ascension to the throne, only to become bored and restless with the bureaucracy of power. His subsequent slide into lust, adultery, and murder. The brutal consequences of ignoring the jealousy and political maneuvering in his own household. The exile, the return, the painful longing to forgive a son who perpetrated the ultimate betrayal, all of the complex emotional entanglements between a father and a son. The stratification of power in Jerusalem between the young and the old, and one last desperate attempt to fulfill the covenant and place Solomon on the throne, by securing for him an alliance with Israel’s perpetual power brokers, the temple priests.

The Bible Podcast is treading through 1st Kings these days, and a few weeks ago I read through 1 Kings 2 (read | listen). I realized as I was reading it that this is the ultimate ending scene to the story. It’s like something straight out of Godfather. David is lying in his bed, about to die, he pulls a young (maybe 12 years old) Solomon close, and whispers into his ear a list of those who have betrayed him, and should be revenged, and those whose loyalty has yet to be rewarded. He charges Solomon with carrying out a hit list of executions.

And Solomon does. He marches through the list, and puts to death everyone who betrayed his father, no doubt knowing that they would be the first to challenge his right to the throne. He rewards the loyal, no doubt securing their continued support of his royal claim. He slashes his way through the Jerusalem hierarchy, carving out a new reign. Fear sweeps through the old guard, who had abandoned the infirm old king and thrown their support behind Adonijah his son, culminating in the execution of the ruthless Joab, the brutal general who violently defended David’s throne even when David himself opposed Joab’s methods, on the floor of the House of Yahweh.

Can you picture it, in extended montage, muted dialog and cries for mercy from those who betrayed David, the dogged advance of Solomon’s new royal bodyguard, swords drawn, all to the soundtrack of a single male voice singing out in Hebrew the words of Psalm 56,

In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mortal man do to me?

All day long they twist my words;
they are always plotting to harm me.

They conspire, they lurk,
they watch my steps,
eager to take my life.

On no account let them
in your anger, O God, bring down the nations.

The chapter ends with this simple sentence, “The kingdom was now firmly established in Solomon’s hands.”

Indeed.

Must See TV – John Adams

I’ve been thoroughly engrossed in the HBO miniseries John Adams, based on the book by David McCollough.  Part 6 of 7 airs tonight, and then the finale is next week.  This miniseries hits several of my happy places, my interest in history, my love of a good story, and most importantly, great writing.  

Paul Giamatti totally reinvents himself in the title role.  He’s specialized over the years in roles that seem to emphasize the more negative human traits.  Petty, shallow, insecure characters in great movies like American Splendor and Sideways.  It is shocking, really, to watch him become the ferocious orator John Adams, in even the first episode, as he defends the British soldiers on trial for what we know as the Boston Massacre.  As the series plays out, and we begin to see the darker shades of our 2nd president, he brings his usual sharp eye to human character traits.  It’s a simply breathtaking performance.

Laura Linney has slowly become one of my favorite actors over the years, and she totally outdoes herself as Abigail Adams.   Linney’s a strange one, because she’s not one of those actresses that physically transforms herself for roles.  She’s not like a Meryl Streep, a chameleon who shapeshifts.   However, as I’ve watched her tender, nuanced, dynamic Abigail unfold, I’m simply stunned that it’s the same woman who played the insecure, emotionally retarded female lead in last year’s amazing The Savages.

Speaking of shape shifting, after getting robbed of Best Supporting Actor for the single best acting performance of the year in Michael Clayton, Tom Wilkinson outdoes himself, completely disappearing into the role of Benjamin Franklin.  The rest of the cast is outstanding as well, including a noble and subdued turn by David Morse as George Washington.  

I’m going into mildly spoileriffic territory here, so if you’re interested in seeing it without my little commentary in your brain, stop now.  For the rest of you, I just wanted to confess that this miniseries has me reconsidering my views and stances on the birth of our nation.  

See, I grew up as part of the Red, White, and Blue, God Bless America, We’re a Christian Nation sorta tradition so prevalent in Evangelicalism.  I’ve reacted negatively towards it in recent years.  I think that mentality has done us more harm than good, and I’d gleefully tweak Christians with a little reminder about our “Christian Nation” that allowed the enslavement of an entire race of people for about 200 years.  I can say for certain that I’ve never slipped into an “Anti-American” mentality.  I’ve tried to fall somewhere in the middle, keeping me head on straight and giving credit where credit is due.  

However, watching this miniseries, I have been convicted about a few things.  First of all, I think that while slavery will always be the original sin of America, it’s important to remember that these men of great principle, many of whom found slavery detestable, knew a simple fact:  had they tried to deal with slavery in 1775, the nation simply would have never been born.  The South wouldn’t have gone along, and the revolution would have been quelled.  

I think it’s important for the “America is bad” crowd to own up to this reality.  I know it’s going to temper my discussion of our nation in the years to come.  

The other thing about John Adams that has so transfixed me is that in a pre-internet, pre-airline, pre-car world, time seemed to move slower.  It took days to travel to Philadelphia from Boston.  It took months for a piece of news to travel from the colonies to the king and vice versa.  There are several sequences in the first two episodes where the delegates are trying to make decisions about the future even as they’re waiting for their last request to the king to be answered.  

All this to say… I think the slowness of the pace of their lives made it so that when they said something, or did something, they tended to make it matter.  Their words seem chosen more carefully.  Their decisions seem to have more weight, and greater consequences.  Things seem more important.  

Now, I realize this is a mini-series, and that everyone’s pretending, and I’m sure that there are inaccuracies, and so on and so forth.  However, watching this story makes me want to make my words count more.  I sit here, typing, and in a moment, these words will be accessible to anyone all over the world who cares to read them, instantaneously.  

The men of colonial America had one shot.  They had to make it count.  They had to get it right.  There’s a scene where Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin are editing the Declaration of Independence, and it’s just astonishing to think that there was a time before those iconic words existed, and as they change things around, it’s humbling to think that words can be so important.  We take that for granted.

To quote another great American character, (albeit fictitious) Melvin Udall, this miniseries makes me want to be a better man.

 

Encounters with Scripture

Are you discovering (or rediscovering) anything about the Bible?

I have had a few bold encounters with Scripture in my life, but mostly they are little ones that add up.  Sometimes those little encounters get lost in daily life, so I thought it’d be cool if we wrote some down.

On Wednesday nights I am going through a study called The Patriarchs with some women.  This week we studied Genesis 29/30.  I am thinking of Rachel and Leah after they are both married to Jacob.  One’s prettier, one bears more sons, and neither one can let go of the competition.  Sisters – women – human beings are nauseatingly competitive.

Leah has three sons and hopes it will cause Jacob to love her.  Here are the things she said after they were born:

First son: “It is because the Lord has seen my misery.  Surely my husband will love me now.

Second son: “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one, too.”

Third son: “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.”

Then she birthed a fourth son and said, “This time I will praise the Lord.”  After a lifetime of being known for ugliness and betrothal to someone who was in love with her sister, she made her peace , like Lieutenant Dan after the storm on Forrest Gump’s boat.  This baby’s name was Judah.  Of Jacob’s twelve sons, this is the one whose descendant would be Christ.  I thought it was cool that perhaps this small trace of Jesus was bringing peace, even long before he was born.

How about you?  Have you been learning anything from the Bible lately?

His Dark Materials

Tired of all the hysteria surrounding the release of “The Golden Compass”? Take a few minutes out and read Alan Jacobs’ outstanding, incisive, deeply literate critique of “His Dark Materials”, the original series by Philip Pullman that the film is based on.

I originally ran across this essay as part of a collection of Jacobs’ writings, Shaming the Devil, under the title “The Republic of Heaven”. I was thrilled to (finally) find it reprinted online at FirstThings.com under the title “The Devil’s Party”. It is, probably, the only review from a Christian perspective worth reading about the books and film.

It is a deeply critical look at Pullman’s work, but critical in the best possible way: he takes Pullman to task for squandering his formidable literary ability by delivering a disingenuous editorial pamphlet instead of the substantial work of fiction that his readers deserved. I think Jacobs would find resonance with our own beloved Chad’s critique of The Da Vinci Code: he [Brown, and Pullman] delights in goring the church, and “his delight is his undoing.” (what a great line, Chad). What he really wants to write is a bitter political invective against the church, but people don’t pay $20 to read those. Instead, he couches it in thinly veiled narrative, where the characters are either mimeographed caricatures or leitmotifs, and all suffer under the weight of the agenda.

You can hear Jacobs talking more about Pullman’s book at the Mars Hill Podcast archives.

If you haven’t read anything by Jacobs, this is a good introduction. His has a few collections of essays published, including Shaming the Devil and A Visit to Vanity Fair: Moral Essays on the Present Age. Both make good scotch + bathtub reading.

In my cart so far…

So, it snowed last night…just enough to be pretty (which now, a few hours later, means it’s one giant, sloppy, unpretty mess). The snow reminded me that winter has in fact, just begun. Given that I’m a poster-child for SAD, I’m planning ahead and doing some book shopping so that if (hahahahahah!) or rather, WHEN the dysfunction rears it’s ugly head on day #4 of rain (who am I kidding…I mean day #2!) I will at least have some good reads lying about. Better to bury one’s head in a book than just, ya know, bury it. So here’s what’s in my cart so far:
Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith
I’ve read zero Rob so far…I’m curious…and anything with “repainting” in the title is bound to resonate with me…I repaint often. (Which is another way of saying I paint badly quite often.)

Sadly, that’s the only mommy book I’ve added so far. (Thus, this post.) The only other things in my cart are three children’s books about Thanksgiving. (Thanks Aly…I finally checked out the Squanto book you recommended.) Like I said, I’m planning ahead.

I thought briefly about adding Foucault’s Pendulum as per a recommendation on a friend’s facebook page, but this sentence from the review sent me back to the children’s section: “This complex psychological thriller chronicles the development of a literary joke that plunges its perpetrators into deadly peril.” That is soooo utterly unappealing to me. And I don’t even feel compelled to apologize for my lack of intellectualism. (Mark it down.)

So, who has some reading recommendations for me? I’m aiming for somewhere a bit beyond Squanto for children but below the psychologically thrilling Foucault…it’s a big target…surely some of you can help! Lest my brain moss over in this perpetual winter drizzle, do comment soon! Thanks. (I thought about this and this, but I dunno….I guess I kinda want something more….fun.)

The Doubt of the Saints

“Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.” — Mother Teresa to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, September 1979

Time Magazine came out with a whole slew of “Top 10″ lists this week, from the top 10 moments in sports to the top 10 Middle East stories. At the head of their “Top 10 Religion Stories” list was the publishing of Mother Teresa’s private letters.

If you missed the story when it first broke, a collection of private letters between Mother Teresa and several of her confidants was collected and published by Doubleday, under the title Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light. What made this otherwise innocuous event newsworthy were the passages in which she speaks of deep doubts and confusions, where the Angel of Calcutta professes her long periods of doubt, her struggle to believe that a compassionate God could exist, in the face of such overwhelming suffering. That kind of doubt seemed, to those reporting on it, to be inconsistent with the image of stalwart sainthood so cherished by millions.

Of course, anyone who has pursued the life of faith knows that’s not true. We make peace with our doubts, or we flee them, but we don’t ever outgrow them. The presence of doubt in so great a life as Mother Teresa’s is not evidence that religion and devotion are a sham; they are evidence that faith, once awakened by the intimacy of God, can sustain a lifetime of duty and virtue even in the presence of great doubt.

One of the better reflections on faith and doubt was written by C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters, as quoted by Dallas Willard at the opening of The Divine Conspiracy. Writing as the demon Uncle Screwtape, C.S. Lewis says,

“You must have often wondered why the enemy [God] does not make more use of his power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree he chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the irresistible and the indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of his scheme forbids him to use. Merely to over-ride a human will (as his felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For his ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve … Sooner or later he withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all supports and incentive. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs – to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish … He cannot “tempt” to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away his hand … Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

Harry Potter and the Make Victorious Super Magic

For those of you who haven’t finished the book yet, I offer this concise summary of the plot, provided courtesy of a pirated Chinese knockoff translation:

Snape breaks into Hogwarts and rescues Lucius Malfoy from Azkaban Prison. Harry believes that he can defeat Snape and Voldemort only by strenuously practicing charms. Professor Slughorn, inspired by a book from the East provided by Cho Chang called “Thirty-Six Strategies,” devises a plan enabling Harry to seize Snape in the Ministry of Magic. But Gryffindor’s sword, which hung in the headmaster’s office, assassinates Professor McGonagall.

When Harry confronts Voldemort at Azkaban, the Dark Lord tries to win Harry over as a fellow descendant of Slytherin. Harry refuses, and together with Ron and Hermione, kills Voldemort instead. Now what will Harry do about his two girlfriends?

Read a whole bunch of this crap at the New York Times. HT Kottke.

Worst first line contest

“Detective Bart Lasiter was in his office studying the light from his one small window falling on his super burrito when the door swung open to reveal a woman whose body said you’ve had your last burrito for a while, whose face said angels did exist, and whose eyes said she could make you dig your own grave and lick the shovel clean.”

This was the 2006 winner of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest…aka, the worst first line of a novel contest. I heard about it on NPR yesterday morning and remembered it this morning when I heard a song on my ipod begin with “I write mostly on hotel paper…”

This is a 2006 runner-up in the adventure category: “She looked at her hands and saw the desiccated skin hanging in Shar-Pei wrinkles, confetti-like freckles, and those dry, dry cuticles–even her “Fatale Crimson” nail color had faded in the relentless sun to the color of old sirloin–and she vowed if she ever got out of the Sahara alive, she’d never buy polish on sale at Walgreen’s again.”

C’mon Aly…you know you want to enter!

Hey, What’s Everybody Reading?

We’re nearing the apex of summer (i.e., July 4th), and that means that we’re all well into our summer reading program, right? Shamelessly copying a great idea from one of my wife’s posts last year, I thought this would be a good time to ask what everyone is reading. This could include bedtime, quiet time, potty-time, beach time, drive-time (books on CD or tape), iPod time, etc.

I’ll lead off – and the number of books in play reflects only the wonders of ADD, not any great literary aspirations on my part.

Quiet time / bedtime:

The Great Omission by Dallas Willard. Insightful as always, but in smaller bites – great for ADD.

Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? by Philip Yancey. As always, thoughtful, provocative, wide in scope, wonderfully written.

Potty-time: The Calendar section and Entertainment Weekly, as always. At the office I just read an incredible National Geographic article about malaria. I know that this isn’t really a book and just sounds weird, but I was blown away by the worldwide devastation caused by this disease.

Drive time: Three books on CD in rotation.

Babylon Rising by Tim LaHaye. I have a perverse interest in popular Christian fiction. This one involves an Indiana-Jones type evangelical archeologist, and some really powerful bad guys who utilize a hit-man known simply as Talon. See, he has this artificial finger with a really sharp nail… Don’t all run out and get this one at once.

A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. You’ve seen this one for sale at Starbuck’s. A horrifying first person account by an ex-boy soldier during the insane civil war in Sierra Leone. Like the LaHaye book, I can only take this one in small quantities, but for different reasons.

A History of Britain, Part 3 – The Fate of Empire (1776-2000) by Simon Schama. I had trouble getting into this one, so I skipped to disc 6 or 7. Heard an incredible story (no kidding) about medical care during the Crimean War, and now I’m in. Right now I’m hearing about how Prince Albert was really running things for Queen Victoria.

Okay, who’s next?

David and Goliath

Remember the story of David and Goliath from Sunday School? It was yesterday’s reading from The Bible Podcast. It had been a while since I’d read the actual text.

tbp logo

Um, who decided this was a children’s story? Beheadings, corpses lying in fields, rivers running with blood, deceit, cowardice, birds pecking out eyes. Yeah, it’s your basic Sandra Boynton rhyming silly kids story.

Anyway, if you haven’t listened to it in a while, it’s a great story. Click here for the direct link:

1 Samuel 17

On a related tangent, the podcast passed a significant milestone a few weeks ago. We added a listener at a research station in Antarctica, which makes people on all 7 continents who listen to the thing. How cool is that?

“My Lover is Mine” and she has freakin’ nipples!

Ash & Aly, you guys DOMINATE! Just got your Christmas gift today and was near blown away by the sheer beauty and understated–yet mesmerizing–sensuality of the poetry and images (omg–Cerise, you married to dat boy???). Bring on the Benjies, baby, that’s all I’m saying, one author to another! You a big tymer now…every couple getting married in Christendom gots to have dis book, tru dat? I mean, not enough badonkadonk butt or Osca Maya for my personal taste, but we makin’ good progress, brother and sister! I mean, like, isn’t Regal a Christian publisher? (And all this time Paul and I have been wasting our time on these painful legit tomes. Sigh.) I mean, like, aren’t those REAL NIPPLES I see? I’d love to have been on the discussions around that editorial round table! :-)

Okay, all kidding (and ghetto language that you’ll be shocked to know isn’t my first language) aside, I was moved and incredibly encouraged that a book like this could actually be published by and marketed without excuse or even some “hey-they’ve-got-the-predictably-subnormal-IQs-let’s-just-obfuscate” to the Christian community. Does this mean we’re making progress? Does this mean maybe I don’t have to evolve to the house church thing after all? Does this mean that my frazzled Sunday School teacher from 50 years ago is finally going to stop telling me that the Song of Solomon was all a metaphor (and we could just skip over it because it was so confusing)?

And when does the sequel come out. Cause, dang, my homie and me, we pretty much used up allsa pages da firstus nite. I’m just saying…

Baller status with this one, kids! Big do dap kudos!

Love, Teri

p.s. Can this blog count as my thank you card?

p.p.s. I got one word for the picture on the back of the dust cover: RAWR! Can I have a copy to frame for my refrigerator collection of Chad and Erica’s incredibly cool homies?

Wisdom Literature and the Emerging Church, or Where do we go from here?

I’ve read about a bazillion books about the emerging church, and they’ve all kind of run together in the disordered maelstrom that is my brain pan. Consequently, I can’t remember exactly where I read the suggestion that the Bible’s “wisdom literature” (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) could have special value to postmodern-type people — if ever they were inclined to read them — because the writers approached faith and relationships (with God and others) through the lens of personal experience.

When I read it (sorry, emerging author who shall remain nameless due to negligence and bad memory), a light bulb appeared for a split-second over my head. (Okay, okay. Not a literal light bulb. But that would seriously rock if it happened.) “Hey, Self,” I thought to myself. “Wouldn’t it be sweet if someone could present the content of those books in a medium that resonated with persons of the postmodernish persuasion?” And that is how My Lover Is Mine was conceived. (Our due date is February 5.) Ash and I and our friend Ramon put our heads together and tried to figure a way to make Holy Scripture appealing to non-Bible readers. We were helped immensely by gratuitous sexual content.

And now it’s time to decide where we go from here…which is where you come in. Of the four remaining books that fall into the wisdom lit category, which would you most like to see presented in a similar poetry/fine art format? (I’m laboring under the assumption that you care.) Take a gander, when you get a minute, at a couple of the original chapters (see links above) and let us know what you think. I’m leaning toward Ecclesiastes, since the original form and length is close to that of Song of Songs (so we’d know what to expect)…but I’m open to suggestions. A few of the more gut-crunching Psalms, perhaps? Or maybe the wacky-ass metaphysical conversations of Job and his good-for-nothing friends?

Help a sista out.

I shall not now feel ashamed.

I borrowed the extended edition of The Return of the King from our friends Jason and Brooke and have been ever-so-slowly making my way through the special features. In one of the (many) featurettes, a bushel of Tolkien experts examine his theme of hope versus despair, which he explores most powerfully in the contrasting characters of Theoden, King of Rohan and Denethor, Steward of Gondor. Their story lines are remarkably similar: each has lost a son, each has another heir (Eomer and Faramir, respectively) who just doesn’t seem as great as the first, each one’s kingdom is threatened with impending doom. Yet even with all their apparent similarities, one chooses the path of hope (with no promise of fulfillment), while the other commits the ultimate act of despair: suicide (with no chance for what Tolkien called “the eucatastrophe“).

As I was watching the featurette, I realized I was crying. This in and of itself is not that surprising: I’ve become a bit of a blubber-baby in my old age. (All that “feelings need feeling or they get really pithed” has really done a number on my equilibrium.) What was a bit surprising, however, was the realization that the cause of my tears was a short clip of Theoden’s death scene — which was completely out of context, since I wasn’t even watching the film itself. As he lies dying, Theoden says, “I go to my fathers, in whose mighty company I shall not now feel ashamed.”

It just broke me up. It struck me that this hope — the hope that I will someday stand in the presence of my Father, as well as those who have gone before, and not feel ashamed — goes to the core of my desire to live well. I don’t fear punishment (hell, if you prefer) for NOT living well. No, I fear the shame of squandering the graces I’ve been given — and more, I long (on my best days) to live a life deserving of those graces.

Science Fiction does it again

In his novel, Earth, David Brin, writing in 1991, describes a society in the year 2038 where military action is taken against people who keep secrets… And, by the way, in which Bangladesh is simply gone due to rising sea levels, and physics experiments are about to destroy the world.

One thing he gets right: he posits a world where nearly everyone wears a video camera, and is constantly uplinking video in real time to central servers accessibile to all. Senior citizens especially are likely to be wearing video cameras to record any crimes committed against them, which combined with facial recognition software is a powerful deterrent.

And now, from LA:

Some Los Angeles grass-roots groups are training citizens to use cameras, video cell phones and the speed and Internet sites like YouTube to get their voices, and pictures, heard.

“We urge everyone to have a camera on them at all times so if anything happens it can be documented. The concept of patrolling the police is something we are trying to push as a form of direct action,” said Sherman Austin, a founder of Cop Watch L.A., which launched its Web site three months ago.

The three videos shot on cell phones or small recorders capturing Los Angeles police using apparently excessive force to restrain suspects all surfaced within a week.

Of course, what goes around comes around. If the anti-police patrol would police its own communities, recording drug buys, muggings, trolling johns, etc., imagine the salutary effect on minority on minority crime. Of course, some of those folks shoot back with something besides camcorders: unlike the cops. Now, when a cop plugs somebody for videoing an arrest, THAT will be real news.
In the meantime, guard your secrets jealously.

McLaren Just Killed Santa Claus

So I just finished the third book of Brian McLaren’s trilogy (The Last Word and the Word After That) and my brain hurts.

Here’s the best way to describe what I’m feeling right now: I’m nine years old and it’s December 20. I’ve known for oh, about five years that there really is no such person as Santa Claus, but everybody in the family has always talked the jolly elf up every year, and I’m not about to declare “the emperor has no clothes on” for fear that the goodies won’t be under the tree on Christmas morning if I don’t play along with the game! But now someone comes along and suggests something outrageous: What if we could have an even better Christmas without Santa Claus? What is there’s something better than presents that are broken within a week? (Better than presents? How scary is that?)

Who out there has read all three of these books? I would value your feedback! I feel like I’ve been holding my breath and just playing along with everyone else for 35 years for fear of being banned a heretic.

Teri

What’s on your bedstead right now?

Okay, fess up: what are you reading right now? Don’t go all lofty on me; I want to know, really and truly, what your brain is soaking up this week. What are you reading for fun and what are you reading for serious (and what’s on the runway)? I’ll start:

Serious reading: Just started the third book of McLaren’s trilogy (The Last Word and the Word After That). Phillip Jenkins’ The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Chrisitianity, Willard’s Divine Conspiracy, Emmet Fox’s The Sermon on the Mount and then Strauss and Howse’s Millennials Rising and The Fourth Turning are lined up on the runway.

Fun reading: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I’m an enormous scifi freak (it’s my drug of choice). Next on the runway: The rest of this series (approximately 5000 pages–she’s wordy, that one), The Heartbreaker by Susan Howath, and gosh but I’d like to slip David Brin’s Uplift War in there someplace!

Okay…your turns. I really want to know!

Poetry Corner: Robert Frost

My dad and I have been emailing back and forth the last few weeks. He is in graduate school, working on his MFT (after 30 years as a pastor), and we have been sharing our Adventures in Therapy. (His program requires him to be in counseling as he learns to be one…but he’d be the first to admit that degree requirements are not the sole reason for his foray into psychotherapy — just the one reason that was finally reason enough.) I can’t describe how incredibly special it is to share this experience with my dad…there’s nothing like walking with someone who shares so many of the same memories to confirm that you’re not alone (or crazy).

In his email tonight, he sent a poem by Robert Frost…and I just had to share. Enjoy.

O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud –
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.

Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says “I burn.”
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.

It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats’ Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.

-”Choose Something Like a Star” (1947)